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>Programs for
Organized Groups

 Overview | Indoor/Outdoor | Indoor |
Outdoor | Pre-K - 2nd Grade  |

 > Overview

SERC offers a variety of programs for organized groups, providing research-based information on current, complex environmental issues. From scout troops and school groups to senior centers and outdoor clubs, we can tailor most of our outreach programs to your specific needs and interests. (All programs align with state curriculum content standards.)

To schedule one of our programs for your next club or organization outing, call our our Public Programs Coordinator Karen McDondald at 443-482-2388 or e-mail at Or we can bring our mobile ecology lab to you!

The programs below are designed to be adaptable for all age groups, from adult to child. Depending on your group's needs we can discuss modifications and adaptations.


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> Indoor/Outdoor

Blue Crabs and Crabbing (1 hour)

Learn about the complete life cycle of the blue crab, from plankton to adult, what distinguishes males from females, and how they molt to grow. We'll also explore what SERC researches use to study the movements of the crabs as they migrate from tags to radio telemetry. Depending on weather your group may crab off the dock or do a hands-on project indoors. Season permitting we'll always have a live crab on hand for students to observe.

Oysters and Oyster Bar Community (1 hour)

We will examine oysters and how they play a duel role in the Bay community from filter feeding to creating reefs as apartment complexes for tiny crabs, fish, and other invertebrates. We will pull up oyster baskets so that all students can sort though them and handle small crabs, fish, shrimp, and other organisms.

Understanding Plankton (1 hour)

Participants will learn about the different types of plankton in the Bay, from phytoplankton to zooplankton. They will then take a sample from our dock, using a plankton tow net, to observe the collected specimens under microscopes. We will then extend the lesson to include a fun hands-on activity called the Plankton Competition. In this activity students create their own phytoplankton, designed using materials provided by staff, and compete to see how well it can float in the photic zone of an aquarium (the "Bay").

ROV (remotely Operated Vehicle) Workshop (3-4 hours, limited to 12 students, ages 12+)

This programs starts out with an introduction to ROVs, which includes different types and how they help researchers. Participants will then work in teams to build their own ROV using PVC, joints, and motors. Each team will then test their ROV and demonstrate its ability to perform an assigned task in the water.

Jellyfish in the Bay (1 hour)

Jellyfish are often vilified in the Bay, but they play a crucial role in the ecosystem as apex predators. In this program we'll explore the two main types of jellyfish that may be encountered, their different life cycles, and how the affect native populations of crabs, oysters, and other Bay organisms. If time and season permit we'll go out side to look for live jellyfish and capture them, or they will be provided for your participants in the classroom. For younger students there is the option for a craft activity.

Native Orchids of Maryland (1 hour)

SERC researchers study the native orchids of Maryland and their relationships to the fungal bundles in their roots. In this program we will learn about these orchids and the research conducted by our scientists. Afterwords we'll take a short hike along our trails and ponds to search for these orchids and identify them in the field.

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> Indoor

SERC Science (1 hour)

In this program we'll explore what SERC scientist does and how they collect data from the many ecosystems around the Chesapeake Bay. Learn how scientists study the forest canopy, what goes on in the Fish and Invertebrate Lab, and discover what our scientists have learned about rising CO2 levels and their affects on marshes. This program can be modified for all ages from adult to pre-K. For younger students we have field gear from different labs that participants can dress up in.

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> Outdoor

Seining (1 hour)

Participants will put on chest waders and venture out into shoreline waters to catch crabs, fish, shrimp and more using a seine net. We will then discuss the organisms we catch and their adaptations for living in our estuaries. For children ages 5-8 years parents must go into the water while students handle, sort, and identify the catch.

Canoe Excursion (2.5 hour)

Paddle down Muddy Creek with a guide and explore this pristine marsh. We'll look for eagles, herons, muskrats, and other wildlife. As we canoe we'll also stop at two SERC research stations to discuss the studies conducted here at SERC on tidal wetlands. Minimum age is 6 yrs.

For groups with children ages 12 and younger there must be one adult per canoe. For groups of up to 18 people, there is a minimum fee of $288. For groups of more than 18 people, the first five adults are free, all additional adults are $16 per person, and children 13 and under are $8 a person.

Understanding Marshes Hike (1.5 hour)

We will take a 1.5 mile hike through upland mixed deciduous forest and into our native marshes. Along the way we'll discuss forest dynamics and the research our scientists are conducting on the land and in the water. We'll stop at a water sampling station, along a marsh boardwalk to explore native v. invasive plants, and then to Hog Island to the Fish and Invertebrate Lab's study site at the fish weir.

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> Pre-K to 2nd Grade Programs

These programs are designed for a maximum of 18 students. Groups of larger than 18 must schedule more than one program. All K-2nd grade programs (except seining) include a book, a craft, and an activity, for a total of approximately one hour.

B is for Blue Crab

Explore the world of blue crabs and visit with a live blue crab. 

Insects and Scavenger Hunt 

Learn about the body parts of insects and about different types of insects and then go on an insect scavenger hunt.

Fish and Fish Prints 

Learn about fish and fish adaptations, and then make fish prints on t-shirts or paper using rubber fish.

O is for Oyster 

Sift through oyster baskets to find and observe crabs, fish, and shrimp, and learn about oyster communities.


Uncover the world of jellyfish, their life cycles, and importance. If the season permits, meet a live jellyfish.

Hoppers, Jumpers, Swimmers, and Crawlers 

Parents will put on waders and use a large net to catch crabs, fish, and shrimp for students to handle and sort into 4 categories based on movement: hoppers, jumpers, swimmers, and crawlers.


Dive into the world of sharks by learning about their adaptations, and about the different types found in the Bay.

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